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LIVE: Sarah Gargano – The Beehive, Bromley-by-Bow, London, 04/06/2022

Despite being a few tube stops east of hipsterville, The Beehive Pub in Bromley-by-Bow is a hidden gem. Minutes away from the tube exit, it is also handy for South East Londoners to board on a 108 bus via The Blackwell Tunnel.

The pub’s small, compact stage is a veritable launching pad to showcase London’s current emerging talent: a key necessity now there is a Renaissance of sorts post ‘the restrictions’.

Having recently switched bases to London – where she also performed pre-COVID – New York-raised Sarah Gargano initially developed her diverse heartwarming vignettes on the Greenwich Village coffeehouse circuit from an early age.

This Jubilee Saturday, with her aqua Cort electric as her main instrument, Sarah is accompanied by the flautist Noga Akerman and acoustic guitarist Elizardo Vasquez. Her self-penned numbers certainly evoke a warm and empathetic glow, like stumbling across candid diary entries similar to those of Anne Frank or the diarist of Go Ask Alice.

She begins with the mood-setting Deadline’: a pragmatic account of a long distant relationship dilemma. Its very upbeat rhythm itself unexpectedly similar to The Red Hot Chili PeppersGive It Away’ albeit potently sweet-sounding.

The mood is toned down with the late Big Star-like Murdered Angels’. Originally released on her My Travel Diary EP, the song was adopted by The World Jewish Congress and re-released in late 2020 to mark the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht aka Night of Broken Glass.

Her late grandmother’s childhood escape to America from the brutal Nazi programmes in Vienna is strongly narrated. A sense of ‘what if’ is projected with her photograph-like holocaust imagery. She uses modern references such as ‘tattoos are just a work of art’ to hammer home a wholly different meaning back then.

‘Dear Juliet’ is about an imagined letter to the Shakespearian heroine – inspired by a 2019 Verona holiday. Noga’s lyrical flute adds a profound sense of nostalgia in the style of Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter. It is eloquent and tantalisingly delivered amid a contemporary lyrical sheen.

Occupying an earthier territory is ‘Red Solo Cup’ – about a crushed romantic situation reminding me of the Tom Waits’ rarity ‘Friday’s Blues’. Backed by stinging but infectious acoustic guitar, it reinforces ‘that we have all been there’. The older songs ‘London’ and ‘Second Chance’ respectively about a self-fulfilling prophecy and redemption certainly ‘wipe the slate clean’ in contrast.

In the seated spotlight for her chorus-driven signature ‘Paper Girl’, lambasting student hookup culture, Sarah strums her ukulele, inviting audience participation. This humble arrangement gives her opportunity to freely shine while personifying herself within the song.

She concludes with a bathetic untitled song about therapy (tears and fears are quirky). The sense of a work in progress is subtly marketable, and anticipates her next artistic chapter.

At 24, Sarah Gargano is already a veteran with no doubt a potential album forthcoming. Like Joni Mitchell circa Clouds, she determinedly proved her multi-faceted sensibility was liberated from the limitations of a sole guitar. Long may she run.

Photo by The Shattered June

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.